School district business is our expertise. With more than 30 attorneys dedicated to advising public agencies on the complex array of issues encountered while conducting their operations, Lozano Smith is prepared to share our knowledge gained in preparing thousands of contracts and helping school districts build hundreds of facilities. The business of schools is vast - from daily vendor contracts, to budgeting and revenue generation, our attorneys routinely advise on and advocate for school districts. Equally, Lozano Smith provides counsel and support on all aspects of real property and facilities issues. When a novel issue presents itself, we work closely with our clients to develop creative, efficient and effective solutions. And, if a contract is challenged or a construction project goes awry, our litigation team has a proven track record of success.

Lozano Smith Facilities and Business Practice Group specializes in:

Business

  • Budgeting Issues, Funding Disputes & Audit Appeals
  • Procurement of Supplies and Services
  • Contract Development and Review
  • Energy Issues
  • Public Finance including Bond Counsel Services
  • Technology Procurement and Contracting

Facilities

  • Bidding, Bid Challenges and Alternative Project Delivery
  • Selecting and Contracting with Construction Professionals
  • Construction Contract Development and Administration
  • Prevailing Wage and Project Labor Agreements
  • Construction Litigation
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
  • Developer Fees and School Facilities Mitigation
  • Prop. 39 Procurement and Contracting
  • Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
  • State Funding and the School Facilities Program
  • Joint Facilities Use

Real Property

  • Land Acquisition - Purchase and Exchange
  • Due Diligence Issues including CDE Approval and Resolution of Title Exceptions
  • Eminent Domain
  • Land Use and Zoning Issues
  • Leases, Easements and Other Property Interests
  • Charter School Facilities and Prop. 39 Offers
  • Surplus Property Disposition
Sacramento, Redding acollins@lozanosmith.com
Sacramento, San Diego dmaruccia@lozanosmith.com
Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield jbehrens@lozanosmith.com
Matthew R. Hicks Senior Counsel
Megan  Macy Partner
Sacramento, Redding mmacy@lozanosmith.com
Patrick A. Gunn Attorney at Law
Walnut Creek, Sacramento pgunn@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, Bakersfield tsims@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, Mission Viejo wcurley@lozanosmith.com

California Public Records Act Applies to Private Accounts

By:Harold Freiman, Manuel Martinez -

March 2017 Number 11 Emails, text messages and other written communications sent to or from a public official's private account may be subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a highly anticipated decision published on March 2, 2017. (City of San Jose et al. v. Superior Court (March 2, 2017, No. S218066) ___ Cal.5th ___ < http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S218066.PDF>.) The court held that t...

Change in Law May Require Shift to Even-Year Elections

By:William Curley III, Steven Nunes -

February 2017 Number 8 In September 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 415. SB 415, which becomes operative on January 1, 2018, prohibits political subdivisions from holding odd-year regular elections if a prior odd-year election resulted in a "significant decrease in voter turnout," as defined by statute. The new law reflects a policy of encouraging election consolidations to defray election costs and encourage voter participation. It applies only to regular elec...

County Boards of Education May Not Exempt Charter Schools from Local Zoning Regulations

By:Edward Sklar, Erin Hamor -

February 2017 Number 7 A California Court of Appeal has held that a county board of education may not grant exemptions from zoning ordinances under Government Code section 53094. ( San Jose Unified School District v. Santa Clara County Office of Education (Jan 24, 2017, No. H041088) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ < http://www.courts. ca.gov/opinions/documents/H041088.PDF >.) Specifically, county boards may not exempt the charter schools they authorize from zoning ordinances. School districts ...

Attorney Invoices are Subject to Disclosure under the Public Records Act

By:Harold Freiman, Manuel Martinez, Nicholas Clair -

January 2017 Number 3 The California Supreme Court has ruled that invoices from a public agency's legal counsel are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), with limited exceptions. Invoices for work in pending and active legal matters may generally be shielded from disclosure under the attorney-client privilege. In Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors v. Superior Court (Dec. 29, 2016, No. S226645) ___ Cal.4th___ < http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/d...

All Local Agencies Must Adopt Debt Policy Prior to Debt Issuance as of January 1, 2017

By:Daniel Maruccia, Sean Mick -

December 2016 As Lozano Smith previously reported (see 2016 Client News Brief No. 69), on September 12, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 1029, which requires all California public agencies to report annually on any debt sold on or after January 21, 2017. In addition to the annual reporting requirement, SB 1029 requires all public agencies to implement a debt policy covering certain minimum statutory requirements. Effective January 1, 2017, a debt policy must be implemente...

School District Bid Threshold Raised for 2017

By:Devon Lincoln -

December 2016 Number 88 According to the California Department of Education Office of Financial Accountability and Information Services, pursuant to Public Contract Code section 20111(a), the bid threshold for K-12 school districts' purchases of equipment, materials, supplies and services (except construction services) has been adjusted to $88,300, effective January 1, 2017. This represents an increase of 0.626 percent over the 2016 bid limit. The notice may be viewed here. The Califor...

Appellate Court Reopens Door for Level 3 Fees

By:Harold Freiman, Kelly Rem -

November 2016 A California court decision has cleared the way for eligible school districts to begin charging Level 3 developer fees to fund new school construction. The Third District Court of Appeal had previously issued a "stay," or a legal hold, on a decision from the Sacramento County Superior Court that would allow eligible districts to collect Level 3 fees. On November 1, 2016, the court denied a request from the California Building Industry (CBIA) to continue the stay. Immediate...

Representative Cases

Lozano Smith was part of the team representing Los Angeles Unified School District in Williams v. State of California, a massive statewide class action involving alleged conditions in public schools including alleged inequalities in school facilities, instructional materials and teachers, particularly at underperforming schools that were already the subject of various state and federal categorical programs.
Clovis Unified School District v. Chiang (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 794. Assisted eleven school districts with invalidating audits of several state mandated cost reimbursement claims worth more than $30 million, based upon the use of invalid, underground auditing documentation rule by the State Controller’s Office. The firm was later able to receive an award of $240,000 from the superior court for fees and costs incurred in the litigation efforts, largely offsetting the school districts’ legal costs in the case.
Oak Grove Elementary School District v. George W. Putris, as Tax Collector for the County of Santa Clara, Santa Clara County Superior Court Case No. 114CV261473. Represented the District in a complex matter related to a parcel tax authorized by the District's Board and approved by voters in 1991. The District returned to the voters every four years to re-obtain approval to increase the appropriations limit to spend tax revenues, but uncertainty loomed in 2014 regarding whether the District still had authority to collect taxes in 2014 after not needing to increase the annual appropriations limit that same year. The County Tax Collector was unclear whether it still had the authority to collect the taxes, therefore leading to Lozano Smith filing a lawsuit on behalf of the District seeking a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the County Tax Collector to collect parcel taxes. The lawsuit resulted in a stipulated judgment issuing a peremptory writ of mandate commanding the Tax Collector to collect the parcel tax.
Morgan Hill Unified School District v. Minter & Fahy Construction Company, Inc. et al., Santa Clara County Superior Court, Case No. CV772368 (2002-2003). As part of a three week jury trial, successfully represented the school district against contractor and pipe manufacturer arising from underground fuel storage tank that leaked, and obtained judgment in excess of $2 million including interest and attorney’s fees. *Case handled by a current Lozano Smith attorney prior to their employment at Lozano Smith.
Modtech Holdings v. Pajaro Valley Unified School District. On two separate elementary school projects totaling $4 million, the District withheld substantial sums to cover damages caused the contractor. One project under the control of the contractor had a fire, with the contractor refusing to compensate the District. The other project suffered construction deficiencies in the stucco and roof. The contractor sued for improper withholding and the District cross-complained for additional damages, resulting in a $1 million dispute. After discovery and expert investigation revealed additional claims for the District, the case resolved very favorably for the District a few months short of trial.
R. Baker, Inc. v. Coast Unified School District. A school district was subject to multi-million dollar design, delay and defect claims related to construction of a new elementary school located in the Coastal Zone. The project also suffered from an inadequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), thus causing the school district to be fined in excess of $300,000. The litigation settled favorably for the District at mediation.
Mountain Cascade v. Santa Clara Valley Water District. The District entered a contract with the plaintiff to install a recycled water pipeline. As part of the original plans and specifications, the contract also called for the additional installation of fiber optic conduits. However, after award the District deleted the fiber optic work from the project since the bid on that line item was excessive. The District then added back a small portion of the fiber optic work that was within the budget. The contractor sued the District for lost profits based on the deleted work. Our attorney won summary judgment for the District based on the broad right to add and delete work, and successfully defended the decision on appeal.
Pajaro Valley USD v. Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., et al. Due to a combination of construction and architectural roof design defects, a new district school was infected with mold throughout its buildings. Lozano Smith attorneys successfully represented the school district in recovering in excess of $3 million for remedial efforts and new construction from litigation prosecuted against the general contractor, architect, and insurer on the district insurance risk policy.
Teichert Construction v. City of Stockton, et al. During a $15 million dual grade separation project, the contractor and one of its subcontractors submitted claims of more than $3 million based on delay. Despite many issues of delay caused by utilities and railroad companies, the case settled favorably at pre-discovery mediation for under $1 million despite a significant number of delay days for which the City had to take responsibility.
Anderson Union High School District v. Shasta Secondary Home School (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 262. Lozano Smith successfully argued, in a case of first impression, that the geographic and site limitations of the Charter Schools Act (Ed. Code, § 47600 et seq.) are applicable to all charter schools, including “nonclassroom-based” programs.